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Gov Deal signs human trafficking bill

Atlanta - Gov Deal signed HB 200 into law on Tuesday, leaving no doubt as to the penalties for human trafficking in Georgia.

HB 200 amends Titles 16, 17, and 35 of the O.C.G.A., relating to crimes and offenses, criminal procedure, and law enforcement, respectively, so as to discourage trafficking of persons for labor or sexual servitude and provide greater protections to persons subject to these crimes. The age of consent for sexual activity or the accused's lack of knowledge of the person's age being trafficked shall not constitute a defense in a prosecution.

The sexual history or history of commercial sexual activity of a person alleged to have been trafficked or the person's connection by blood or marriage to an accused in the case shall be excluded from evidence, if determined that the probative values of the evidence is substantially out-weighted by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues, or misleading the jury. This determination will be made at a hearing outside the presence of the jury.

Any accused who commits the offense of trafficking a person for labor or sexual servitude shall be guilty of a felony. Upon conviction they shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than ten nor more than 20 years and/or a fine not to exceed $100,000.00. If a person being trafficked for labor or sexual servitude is less than 18 years old, then the accused will be imprisoned for not less than twenty-five nor more than fifty years and/or receive a fine of no more than $100,000.00.

Any person convicted of any offense related to an act of prostitution, pimping or pandering when the offense involves a person under the age of 16 shall be guilty of a felony. The punishment shall be imprisonment for a period of not less than ten nor more than 30 years and a fine of not more than $100,000.00.

Any real and personal property of every kind used or intended for use in the course of, derived from, or realized through a violation of this bill shall be subject to forfeiture to the state. HB 200 also provides the eligibility of victims of human trafficking to apply for compensation and the right to be notified of eligibility. It also provides guidelines and procedures for the incorporation of training materials and requires the investigation and identification of human trafficking.